The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.(Revelation 1:1-3)
The Book of Revelation is unique to all of the other books of the Bible, because it pronounces a specific blessing on those who read and those who hear the reading of the prophecy, providing they take the word to heart. Obviously there is a blessing on all of the scripture, but there is a specific blessing in reading revelation.
Here is why I believe there is such a blessing;
*Because It is the “Revelation of Jesus Christ”, not merely the end times events, the anti christ, the beasts, the plagues and woes befalling the world , but the vision given to John the apostle is an unveiling of Jesus Christ himself as the glorified Lord of history and eternity.
All of the Scripture are in fact a Revelation of Jesus Messiah. The Law, Prophets, History and Wisdom literature of the Tanakh cannot truly be understood without appreciating this fact.“In the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy Will, O my God, your law is in my heart…”(Psalm 40)
From the very beginning , in the promise of “the seed of the woman” ,who would come to undo the primal curse and redeem the Sons of Adam and Eve, by “crushing the serpent’s head” and in the process he would suffer the “bruising of his heel”, the gospel of the Messiah was being preached. In all of Israel’s long history, in her worship, her temple with its sacrifices and in her Kings, Priests and Prophets, Jesus was being foretold, and taught of.
Obviously the New Testament is a Revelation of Jesus. The Gospels reveal that God was “manifested in the flesh”, in the person of Jesus Christ. Behold the mystery of Christ crucified, a paradox, for “Christ” is power, yet “crucified” is weakness, “Christ” is divine acceptance and “crucified” is Divine rejection, and finally “Christ” is Salvation, yet “crucified” is wrath and Judgment.
But the Revelation is of Jesus glorified.
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.(Revelation 1:12-17)
* Because the Revelation strips away the veneer that covers the world. Too many christians are enamored of the world, as never before ours is a worldly “vanity fair”. Because of the prevalence of media, entertainment and distraction, people literally “Love the World” and the things in the world, even many christians. It all looks so good.
Revelation 18 presents “Mystery Babylon as a great shopping mall.All the things a person can desire are available to man, in a descending order of expense, the highest value being Gold, and silver and at the bottom of the scale, “the souls of men”. Everything is available to everybody, 24-7, it is a merchant’s dream, the long-awaited everlasting, shiny, high tech, streamlined, easy credit, universal shopping experience. There is something for everyone!
But the vision John received strips away the veneer, to reveal the spiritual reality,
… Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.(Revelation 18:2)
The habitation of demons? The hold of foul spirits? The cage containing unclean and hateful birds? Such is the spiritual reality of the World, the true nature of the system which would gratify men’s desires at the expense of the Spirit.
The World is designed to make men forget their deepest need, ie reconciliation to God. It is hostile to God and Christ, and would overcome the curse without repentance. The Revelation of Jesus to John, makes this all plain to see, stripping away the facade.
* Because the Apocalypse takes us to heaven. Often times we hear adages and maxims that pass for conventional wisdom, and seem almost “scriptural”, when in fact upon thoughtful examination, they are wrong!
One saying that particularly peeves me, is “He’s so heavenly minded, he’s no earthly good”. It ranks right up there with “pie in the sky”, as a scornful dismissal of something exceedingly precious, and holy, that is the contemplation of heaven.
The truth is, the only people who ever truly did any “earthly good”, were the heavenly minded ones. Those who were pilgrims and strangers, inspired by the Bible and it’s promise of a “better country ” and of a “city, whose builder and maker is God”, are the ones who built hospitals, Universities, ended slavery, and performed countless other merciful reliefs for this sin sick world.
The vision of the Revelation of Jesus, takes us into the very throne room of heaven itself, many times, and that is a blessing in and of itself. We need to see above the earthly horizon, in order to be whole, we must maintain the heavenly hope.
Only those nurtured on the hope of heaven, will be enabled able to resist the “artificial heaven on earth”, the godless Utopia which comes to a head in the last hour, only to be crushed at the Parousia of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ.
In our next article we will follow John into the throne room of God…